Can Cinderford and Taunton be the real deal this year?

Redruth will be hoping to keep in touch with the early pacesetters this weekend
©Aaron Bayliss

The top two sides in National Two South, Cinderford and Taunton, will be looking to continue their rampant starts in the division as they aim to sustain a possible challenge for a top two spot.

It is, of course, very early to be discussing promotion, but both of the aforementioned sides have been excellent so far.

They are not the only unbeaten sides in the division though. While Cinderford and Taunton face London Irish Wild Geese and Wimbledon this weekend, third placed Chinnor will be waiting in the wings as they look to make it three wins on the spin against Redingensians.

Elsewhere in National Two South, Worthing will be hoping to return to winning ways at Redruth, consistency will be the key for Canterbury, Bury St Edmunds and Tonbridge Juddians and Broadstreet and Clifton look to break their ducks.

Cinderford v London Irish Wild Geese

Cinderford are rampant at present. 29 tries in three matches is an astonishing start to the season for Paul Morris’ men who, as you might have guessed, have a maximum of 15 points from their opening three matches and sit at the top of table in these early stages of the campaign.  14 of those aforementioned tries came against Henley Hawks last week and they will be in no mood to stop this ruthless streak when London Irish Wild Geese visit Dockham Road tomorrow.

And it is a Wild Geese side that is short on confidence at the moment. After a season of flirting with relegation following promotion in 2016, the men from Hazelwood have had a tough start to the season and they must fearing the worst ahead of their trip to Gloucestershire after three straight defeats. It would be the result of the weekend if the visitors were to upset the applecart tomorrow.

Wimbledon v Taunton Titans

Taunton Titans are becoming familiar with starting new terms quickly. Once again, Tony Yapp’s side have flown out the blocks and their fast beginning doesn’t look like it is coming to a halt any time soon. The Titans blasted their way past Barnstaple last weekend and are heavy favourites to make it four wins on the spin when they travel to southwest London tomorrow.

In contrast, Wimbledon are still searching for their maiden triumph this term. After clinching promotion via the National Three South play-off, they have failed to get off the mark as of yet, but they have certainly put up a fight during their short time in National Two. Three losses may be next to their name, but Wimbledon will have taken positives from those outings as they look to defy the odds tomorrow in front of their own supporters.

Chinnor v Redingensians

They may have drawn on the opening day of the season, but Chinnor are just showing glimpses of the swagger which so nearly earned them promotion last term. Matt Williams’ side have shaken off the rust and are starting to click through the gears as two convincing wins from their last couple of matches has seen them move level on points with second place Taunton Titans.

The Black and Whites defeated Henley Hawks and London Irish Wild Geese and they are back at Kingesy Road tomorrow to take Redingensians. The Rams have also recovered from a disappointing start by clinching victories over Wild Geese and Worthing Raiders. However, this test against Chinnor is a different kettle of fish as the hosts have not lost at home since January 2016, but the Redingensians will be out to break that record.

Redruth v Worthing Raiders

Redruth responded from their disappointing loss to Barnstaple in Round Two, with an assured display against Wimbledon to get their campaign back on the right track. The Reds finished fourth last term and may well be towards the top places in this division once again this season under the stewardship of Pale Nonu.

Nonu’s side are back at the Recreation Ground this weekend as they prepare to welcome Worthing Raiders. Jody Levett’s men suffered their first defeat of the season in Round Three away at Redingensians so they will be hoping their long trip to Cornwall delivers a victory as they aim to bounce back. The Raiders have won just three of their last 16 games away from Roundstone Lane.

Old Redcliffians v Canterbury

Canterbury will be hoping their consistency can last. Back to back wins for the City Men is exactly what Andy Pratt and his side were after and they achieved that following a dominant display against newly promoted Broadstreet. The men from the Marine Travel Ground now face another one of National Two South’s newcomers so they’ll be hoping for a similar outcome in Round Four.

Their hosts, Old Redcliffians, are struggling to adapt to life at this level following such a successful season last year. The National Three South West champions lost just three times last season, but they have already suffered the same amount of defeats in the opening few weeks of this term. However, after two heavy losses against Redruth and Taunton, the ORs will have taken positives from their narrow defeat against Bury St Edmunds last weekend as they aim to clinch their maiden triumph this Saturday.

Barnstaple v Bury St Edmunds

After two wins from two, Barnstaple were brought back down to earth with a bump last week as they were heavily beaten by Taunton Titans. Their trip to Somerset was one to forget for Steve Perry’s men who will now regather themselves for the visit of Bury St Edmunds to Pottington Road as they aim to return to winning ways.

Perry will be pleased with Barum’s start to the campaign despite that loss to Taunton and his opposite number, Ollie Smith, will also be delighted with the way Bury have turned their fortunes around over the last couple of weeks. A humbling defeat against new boys Tonbridge Juddians on the opening day would have been tough to take, but the Suffolk side have responded with back to back victories against Broadstreet and Old Redcliffians. With three of the four newly promoted sides already ticked off the list, the Wolfpack will be ready to get their teeth into a slightly more experienced National Two side tomorrow.

Tonbridge Juddians v Henley Hawks

Two away trips culminating in 518 miles have delivered two victories for newcomers Tonbridge Juddians. Back to back results on the road has given TJs a pretty positive start to life at this level, but Peter Dankert’s side will be eager to put in a similar performance on their own turf, starting with Henley Hawks this weekend.

This may or may not be the right time to play Henley Hawks for the Juddians. The Hawks head to Kent following a mauling by Cinderford so they will be either still licking their wounds or ready to retaliate. My personal feeling is that Pete Davies’ will react to such a heavy defeat as they go in search of their first victory since the opening day of the season.

Broadstreet v Clifton

Clifton have failed to build on their opening day result against Chinnor. Following a draw against one of the possible promotion challengers for this term, the Lavender and Blacks have manged just 19 points which has seen them fall to defeats against Cinderford and Tonbridge Juddians. Darren Lloyd’s men struggled with consistency last season and they will be hoping to nip that in the bud tomorrow.

They take the journey to the Midlands to take on a Broadstreet side who is also struggling to find wins. As expected, adapting to a new league as well as the travelling side of things must be tough for Street who are taking part in their first ever season in National Two South. However, at home is what they are used to and it is where they may well be targeting their wins this season. A maiden triumph against Clifton tomorrow would certainly ease the need for Broadstreet to get off the mark at Ivor Preece Fields.

National League Rugby